Data management is not about data!


I’m not much of a fisherman – quite honestly it drives me crazy to spend all that time and money without actually catching anything. I’ve never really seen the point.

For many business people data management projects and budgets can also seem to be rather pointless spend. This is because data management projects are frequently driven by technologists who do not speak the business language – we loose the business user.

So, what has this got to do with fishing? Many fishing enthusiasts will tell you that fishing is not about catching fish – it is about having an enjoyable day outdoors, enjoying a couple of beers and relaxing. Catching fish is a bonus!

In the same way, data management is not about data!

It has to be about addressing business issues caused by data. A business person is far more likely to see the point of a project to “reduce overall debtor’s days by x%” than they are in a project intended to “improve the accuracy of addresses”. Focussing on the business issue also allows us to focus on the data necessary to address a specific problem, rather than trying to address everything.

As data management professionals we have to recognise that our ability to sell our value to business is very heavily dependent on speaking the right language, and deliver results that can be linked back to business issues. How are you selling data management in your organisation?

This post was first published on the dataqualitymatters blog

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5 thoughts on “Data management is not about data!

  1. If you’re in a trade where sending accurately addressed mail is a legal requirement (e.g. if you don’t send good mail, the client can sue you), then “improving address accuracy” is a business “interest.”

    The big things tend to take care of them selves… the little things bite you… death by 10,000 cuts.

    • Thank you for your comment. I would suggest that in this example the business driver is in fact COMPLIANCE.

      So, yes poor quality addresses can impact numerous business processes. But a project to clean up addresses should be linked to the underlying business concern

  2. Nice post.

    I agree. We in the data management domain need to be able to articulate what we do in terms that will resonate with different audiences.

    One way I like to think about it is in terms of the 3 R’s:

    o Revenue – increase it
    o Reduce costs
    o Regulatory – ensure meeting risk and compliance standards

    So using the address example. What is the business impact of having ‘poor’ address data in terms of the 3R’s and what are the costs/benefits of improving?

  3. From my own experience, the point is usually to have business understand that, even if the data is good enough for their own use, it may not reach the standards for their colleagues’ use.
    (I think a previous post highlighted that.)
    So that, it is a cost for the data owner, in order for someone else to win some money.
    Anyone, any idea how to get the owner’s buy in in that case?

    • I think this is the value of a data governance council – rather than being focussed on documenting policy etc they should be a forum to ensure optimal use of data at the enterprise level. In this case, surely the costs of improving the data to meet an additional business user’s needs should be carried by that user, rather than by the nominal owner? A data governance function should facilitate this.

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